Masters of the future or heirs of the past?

Mining, history and the right to know

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  • Published 20210202
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-56-6
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN MAY 2020, the international mining giant Rio Tinto made a calculated and informed decision to drill 382 blast holes in an area of its Brockman 4 mining lease that encompassed the ancient rock shelter formations at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. In a matter of minutes, eight million tonnes of ore were ripped from the earth, and with them, 46,000 years of cultural heritage destroyed.

The Puutu Kunti Kurrama Pinikura people, who are the traditional owners of that land, lost their material connection to sacred sites of ceremonial, clan and family life, the basis for their political and social organisation. The Australian people lost a significant chunk of their national estate. As Marcia Langton lamented, not only had the PKKP people been robbed of their cultural inheritance, but the world lost out too, because the Juukan caves ‘held significant evidence for the further understanding of human history’.[i]

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